Travel journal : Resurrection In Bali (Part 3)

The late Maestro Jro Gadung Arwati. The famous Wiranatha dance took her travel around the world.

The cold wind blew softly and the leaves of the trees surrounding the yard of Puri Agung Peliatan also danced with the flow. Some Japanese guests already took their seats. Some people from Japanese magazine and media also attended and busy with their camera. I walked around and familiarized my self with some angles provided for photographers and media. We can only shoot from marked spots at the two corners of front stage, so audience wouldn’t be interupted. Time flew and less empty seats left. The ambience was perfect and I could sense a feeling of euphoria in my head. What a great moment ! I was in the center of Balinese art of dance where it was born.

The first performance of Langse. August 28th, 2010.

In search for my inner self spiritually after crisis hit me in 2010, I traveled to Bali, the land of gods and spirits, and attended “Langse”, an event of classic Balinese performance art in Peliatan, on August 28-29th 2010 which was presented by Yayasan Intan Budaya Negeri. I was invited by Doddy Obenk, a photographer who resides in Bali and involved much in local cultural growth and development, especially in Peliatan. He has been covering Balinese culture for long and work together with maestros of dance in Peliatan. It’s a long story and only those who know his dedication could appreciate his passion and love towards Balinese art. You can view his photography here : and art program here : also his Facebook in here :

Pendet dance, Puri Agung Peliatan August 28th, 2010.

After shooting scenes in backstage a day earlier the feeling of energy was even stronger as they were approaching the opening of this event. Little did I know about shooting dance photography but Doddy taught me to pay attention to the music, just recognize the music and its allure will tell also the movement of the dancers. I tried to cope with that and only can get perhaps a little hint. Long way to go I thought.

Chandra Metu dance, August 28, 2010.

Regardless of my first time shooting art performance in Bali, I felt absolutely comfortable and could enjoy both watching and shooting at once. Leaving all the technical stuff behind all I did was cliking the shutter all along the show. The years of unfeeded passion in me had peaked and finally I drowned in blissful realm in Puri Agung Peliatan, a spiritual and an art ambience blended together. Stains of corrupted mind gradually fell off and I could felt the sense of happiness and satisfaction again. Living as a photographer with no identity for 13 years was like a robotic life. Now as I could sense the good object with good feeling the rest was just easy.

Maestro dance I Gusti Ayu Raka Rasmi performing Legong dance. August 2010.

The whole performance was just like a kind of long story unfolded and as the show went on I could caught the decisive moment along. It’s like path traveled and we have plenty of views left and right side. It was our decision whether to record the scenery of just enjoy the sight seeing. My main purpose was finding my long lost soul in photography while sharing about this journey to everybody in this world. So, shooting was part of the journey.

The other thing I absorbed was the spiritual aspect of Balinese people. They are surrounded by lots of religious symbols, rituals and any kind of people’s lives are also attached to religious value. Karma is the teaching in Hindu religion and it reflect into people’s behaviour thus scuplting the image of Balinese in the region. I never felt at peace and comfortable at once besides in Bali, the sense of safety, peaceful, comfort, and spiritual all in one place. It’s Bali way.

Oleg dance,August 28th, 2010.

Kebyar Duduk Dance performed by Maestro Ida Bagus Oka Wirjana (Gus Aji), August 29, 2010.

Ida Bagus began studying Baris dance since very young age under the mentorship of his uncle Ida Bagus Kompiang. He learned Kebyar Duduk dance from I Ketut Maria and he became most inspired by it. It is his specialization in such a way that almost every village in Bali requested his presence to dance the Kebyar as a prayer and tribute to meet their vows to Sang Hyang Widhi, the God. He danced before Soekarno and representing this country by his performance through out Europe, Asia, America, and Japan. I heard that the foundation Intan Budaya Negeri is going have a very special event in May for him. Please check the information on the program in for further details.

Kebyar Terompong Dance, performed by I Wayan Purwanto the successor to Ida Bagus Oka Wirjana, August 28, 2010

Topeng Arsawijaya Dance, August 28, 2010.

What I learned from commercial photography was we do our best applying technique, hours of experience, knowledge, style through good promotion and marketing in order to survive especially in this digital age. So the main cause is an effort to gain more jobs in order to get more income. It is completely different realm when I met Ida Bagus Oka Wirjana my self, his passion toward his calling had boosted his spirit to give himself more in Balinese culture which in turn brings him respect and acknowledge without him sweating for it. As the saying goes “give so ye shall be given”, it seems Balinese religious background have more cause for good deed and that’s what they call it karma.

After 10 days in Bali I went home completely exhausted, caught a mild flu, and needed long rest, but I also brought back wonderful experience loaded with mixed of culture, historical and spiritual value from the land of the Gods, Bali. I would never be the same person anymore. It seems my search for my lost identity had been fruitful though it doesn’t mean I will stop my odyssey. Thank you very much Bali. Om Santhi, Santhi, Santhi Om.

“Mengwi Temple”


Raised Gateway in Mengwi Temple. Bali December 23, 2010.

Have you seen a movie “Eat Love Pray” ? Well, it’s a very famous movie inspired from the same book written by Elizabeth Gilbert, that tells her own true story. I read the book first in early 2010, “What the heck”, I said to my self, “I want to go to Bali and meet the medicine man in this story and photograph him, then meet the other character in the story and also go to the exotic place mentioned in it. So there I went alone and you know what ? Miraculously all my wishes were granted and I indeed met them all and got what I wanted in the journey. It’s a very interesting process in finding my true self after 18 years of working in commercial photography where I take orders from other people and rarely have my own will.


I experience my process in finding my true self and start to recall my deeply buried passion for portrait, landscape, archaeology, history, culture among many things, and am so happy knowing that I know what I want after all those commercial years then.


It’s interesting to follow my heart, no matter how odd it was. What ever interest my self I would follow, or shoot it straight away. This way leading to more a responsive and instinctive photographer. This was when I realized that my right brain and left brain could cooperating in making images. Sometimes I just felt that I had to shoot certain object at certain spot only to end up in an amazing pictures.


In one of my frequent travel to Bali, I went to this amazing place called Taman Ayun, or Mengwi Temple which means beautiful garden. This temple is indeed one of Bali’s most picturesque temple. It was built in the 1634 AD, in the time at the rule of the first king of Mengwi. As most of other Balinese temples, Pura Taman Ayun has 3 connecting temple yards. The innermost sanctum is know as “Utama Mandala” (the highest circle), the middle yard as “Madia Mandala” (the circle in between), and outer as “Nista Mandala” (The humblest circle). To enter the main sanctum one must pass through a raised Gateway, know as the Kori Agung (Paduraksa), and the gateway, between the outer and middle connect in split gate known as “Candi Bentar”.


Inner temple yard viewed from outer raised gate.

Canon 550D + 18-55 EFS IS. ISO 400, 1/4000th, F 5.6


As the Royal family temple of the Raja Mengwi, this temple is a place to worship the royal ancestors, who find their rest in a special shrine know as the “Gedong Paibon”. Apart of it Raja Mengwi also built other shrines in middle court so that all the people at Mengwi able to conduct the religious ceremonies at the temple, such as “meajar-ajar”, memendak sang pitara, and request holy water to protect the rice fields from pestilence, etc. The extensive temple grounds of Taman Ayun also function as a resting place for the Royal family.


The front gate of Mengwi Temple, Bali.

Canon 550D + 18-55 EFS IS. ISO 400, 1/640th, F 13.


In its history, Mengwi Temple has been influenced by up and down of its kings. In 1890 there was a war between the Rajas of Badung Ang Mengwi, and the 10th Raja Mengwi, I Gusti Made Agung lost the battle, and had to retreat to escape to the eastern district border. During the reign of the victorious Raja of Badung the temple was never looked after properly, and the temples building deteriorated due to lack of care.
However, in the year 1911 AD, part of the Royal Family returned to their kingdom, and Pura Taman Ayun was restored. Unfortunately, on January 20
th, 1917 a violent earth-quake damaged many of the existing buildings. Repairs have been done in stages to restore the temple to its original condition.


The upper part of raised gateway with beautiful sculptures.

Canon 550D + Leica Viso 90/4 Elmar with adapter. ISO 200. 1/4000th. Aperture not recorded.

I always want to create a different images than other people and always try to simulate their way of thinking or viewing a scenery then act in opposite manner. So when I entered Mengwi Temple, I definitely knew what not to shoot and what I want. You can see tourists shooting from usual spots and no body was shooting from pathless spots.

Walking around to pathless spots I found an interesting angle and got this perspective with my Leica Elmar 90/4. Always keen on black and white images, I chose to shoot it that way, resulting in pictures that brought back the ancient times feel to them. It’s like I can sense the atmosphere of the past with its glory in this amazing historical ground.